I always think about Mary during Advent. Each year, something new strikes me. In 2003, I was struck by the idea that she could not have possibly known what lay in store for her son. One year, I spent time thinking of real childbirth and how bringing Jesus into this world was a painful experience for His mother. This year, I keep hearing her words, "Let it be."
Months ago, I felt God nudging me toward my theme for 2012. Sometimes a theme is dropped in my lap and I cannot argue with it. Other times, like this year, the theme begins as a lump of clay on the potter's wheel and I watch, entranced, as it is formed into a word or phrase that I can cling to in the year to come.
The lump of clay was the word "gentleness." That's a fruit of the Spirit I struggle to bear, much as Mary must have struggled to bear Jesus. As the wheel spun, the word became a conviction. I do not have a gentle mouth. I am sharp-tongued and sarcastic. I tend to cling to these characteristics as evidence of superior intellect and the mind of a writer, but they are not helpful when it comes to parenting. I tend to see my children as extensions of myself, so I speak to them as I speak to myself. Instead, I need to speak to them in the same compassionate tone I use with my friends.
As this conviction turned within me, I tried to mold it into a theme, but it didn't work. Nothing felt right. I took my hands out of the clay and let God get back to making art. In other words, I waited. The theme would come and it would fit.
Thinking on Mary again, during a Sunday sermon, my theme came off the wheel, shaped into a vessel fit to carry God's only son...
2012 is the year of Mary, the year of "Let it Be."